Welcome to the Florida Blueberry Growers Association

If you would like to become a new member, please visit the About Us section for membership info.

We hope that you enjoy the site, whether you are a blueberry grower, educator, or even an old-fashioned blueberry fan. you will be able to find about all kinds of information here about Florida’s greatest crop.

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Risk Management

The following information and tools were recently released regarding Risk Management. Please find those links below. General links to the RMA website, cost calculators, & information regarding
Whole-Farm Revenue Protection Pilot Program (WFRP)

RMA (Risk Management Agency) website:   www.rma.usda.gov

Cost Estimator/Main Menu:   http://ewebapp.rma.usda.gov/apps/costestimator/Default.aspx

Cost Estimator/Quick Estimate:   http://ewebapp.rma.usda.gov/apps/costestimator/Estimates/QuickEstimate.aspx

Cost Estimator/Detailed Estimate:   http://ewebapp.rma.usda.gov/apps/costestimator/Estimates/DetailedEstimate.aspx

Whole Farm Revenue Protection Pilot Program (WFRP):   http://www.rma.usda.gov/policies/wfrp.html

More on this subject will be upcoming in the January edition of The Blueberry News
 

Spring 2015 FBGA Meeting and Tradeshow

SAVE-THE-DATE
Spring 2015
Meeting and Tradeshow
February 17, 2015

Dear Members,

On behalf of the Florida Blueberry Growers Association, I’d like to say a sincere thank you for your continued support of our organization and Florida agriculture.  Our spring meeting will be held Tuesday, February 17th, 2015 at the Hillsborough Community College Trinkle Center located at 1206 North Park Road in Plant City.

Should you have any questions or need further assistance, please feel free to contact our office at 352-754-4145 or via email at flbbga@gmail.com.

Best regards,

Dudley Calfee
President, Florida Blueberry Growers Association

 

President’s Letter

Overcoming Challenges in the Industry dudley_calfee
We are entering our fall season now, and most of us are looking forward to some additional chill hours, sunlight, and better spring growing conditions overall than last season gave us. I won’t recap the challenges that we faced last year, but suffice it to say that we are all happy to start a new season this year.

A lot of good things are happening at the Florida Blueberry Growers Association (FBGA). By the generous efforts and cooperation of Michael Heard of the Florida Blueberry Festival and the city of Brooksville, located in Hernando County, we now have a furnished and equipped office and a part-time administrative assistant. These new assets will help us to be more responsive in our communication and offer us the opportunity to be of better service to our members. The Executive Committee and Board of Directors of the Florida Blueberry Growers Association are very grateful for all the time and effort put forth by the Blueberry Festival folks and the staff at the city of Brooksville to make these dreams a reality. Brooksville wants to be the “home of blueberries” in the state of Florida and they have truly stepped up to help us find a home where we can be more productive. We look forward to working together to continue to promote our “little blue dynamos” throughout the state and nation.

A couple of serious issues are facing us as growers this season: e pine bark shortage, and a new deadly pathogen attacking our plants— a type of parasitic algae. Pine bark is an essential ingredient in the recipe for growing blueberries in Florida. While the reasons for the limited availability of pine bark remain somewhat elusive, the fact remains that bark is in short supply and getting more expensive. A lot of growers have been unable to re-mulch existing fields and the construction of new acreage of blueberries has been restricted or halted. A lot of explanations have been offered for this situation; from a wet season which limited lumber harvest to the use of bark as “alternative fuel” in some facilities and factories. e Executive Committee of FBGA is continuing to investigate the shortage and try to come up with some answers as to why this is happening and perhaps a solution to loosen the tight supply of this commodity. We are also committed to encouraging research for possible alternatives to pine bark media.

The parasitic algae pathogen has the potential to be a real problem for many of us. It is presented as green lesions with orange reddish centers on the cane of the plant. The algae interfere with the vascular system of the plant, depriving it of nutrients. It seems to be variety specific. Some varieties, like Jewel, have it on the canes and don’t seem to mind. Others, such as Emerald, are severely stunted by the pathogen. Still others, like Farthing, are being killed outright. The experts at the University of Florida tell me the only thing that will help is a combination of copper sprays and some of the “Phite” products in the 2-40-16 range. An excellent article by Dr. Philip Harmon is included in this issue of e Blueberry News. I recommend that all growers read this carefully and be on the lookout for the algae in their fields.
Please take the time to read through this edition. I think you will find it very informative. I hope you all enjoyed the FBGA Fall Meeting, and I wish everyone a safe, successful, and profitable season.

We also have some other great information in this issue:

• Freeze protection info by Dr. Jeff Williamson. This article contains info on critical
freeze protection temperatures and some great photos of blueberry fl ower bud
development phases. A must-read to get ready for the challenges we may face
this winter.

• On the Grower 411 page, we feature Broker/marketer 101, “Do You Know
PACA?” by Dan Ebbecke, which is a great source of info for new and experienced
growers, and probably not a bad read for all the brokers out there too.
• The Spray Guide Tables— updated and reformatted to be more readable and
useful to you as growers.

• Two articles on blueberry diseases by Dr. Philip Harmon: Parasitic algae and anthracnose
stem canker.

• An excellent overview of the different cultivars by Dr. Jim Olmstead.

Please take the time to read through this edition. I think you will find it very informative.  I hope you all enjoyed the FBGA Fall Meeting, and I wish everyone a safe, successful, and profitable season.

Dudley Calfee
Dudley Calfee, President,
Florida Blueberry Growers Association

 

Important information for all Blueberry Growers

On behalf of the Florida Blueberry Growers Association, I would like to share some important information with all of our members.  Please take a few moments to read the below information from University of Florida, Dr. Oscar Liburd and FBGA Director, Michael Hill compiled since Florida farms have seen signs of an Unidentified Borer on Blueberry Bushes.  At this time, no farm has been able to find or catch this insect, but please be on the lookout for any dead plants or holes and sawdust in the base of the plants.

From Dr. Oscar Liburd…

“Samples with injury on blueberry stems resembling girdling and some levels of tunneling were brought to the University of Florida Small Fruit and Vegetable IPM laboratory.  After inspecting the samples with a high powered microscope, we found insect frass inside the tunnels. No insects or larvae were recovered; preliminary conclusion indicate that a borer may be causing the injury on blueberry stems; however, further investigation with samples containing larvae is needed to confirm that it is indeed a borer causing the injury.”

From Michael Hill…

“I started seeing signs of this problem on our farm in Clermont about 3 weeks ago. I would say on our 33 acres I have found around 50 or so plants that are affected. I have seen another farm in the Central Florida area that has much more significant damage from this problem. I have heard that two other farms have this same issue in the Brooksville area, these are the only other farms where the problem was being sought after. I have identified the problem on Emerald, Flicker, Springhigh, Scintilla and Farthing. Have not seen any damage on Jewel.  I took a sample to Oscar Liburd last week and he believes it to be from some sort of borer. He said that he could not find any larvae or adults but he “believes” he may have found sign of feces in the tunnels. As you can see from the picture on the right it looks like bronzing or “flagging” on the cane that it is attacking.

image001

unnamed

As you can see from the picture on the right, the top “tunnel” is an older wound, and the “tunnel” on the bottom seems to be more recent. On the more recent wound, it seems as there is a “flakey” sawdust biproduct of the tunneling which is why Oscar thinks that it may be caused by a borer. The older wound is trying to heal itself but the wound is girdling the cambium layer and killing the cane.

image003

3 year old Emerald​

image004

This is a 2.5 Year old Springhigh. On plants that are more monopodial, like springhigh it is girdling the main cane and killing the entire plant. It is difficult to see here, but the photo on the right, the entire plant is “bronzing” The photo on the left is of the base of the first plant on the right.​​

image005

Notice the “sawdust” below the tunnel

unnamed-1

​As I was about to send this presentation out, Ryan Atwood was able to find this borer in one of the tunnels on a farm in Central Florida. I still cannot be certain that this was the primary cause or a secondary pest moving in, but I would believe it to be the cause of the problem.​

The FBGA wanted to notify all of the growers of this problem and urge you all to scout your field for this pest/disease. We feel like we would like to ask IFAS to perform research on this issue and get to the bottom of this problem. It seems to be a severe issue that left untreated could devastate a field, and every farm that I have been to since seeing the issue on our farm has had the same symptoms. One farm I visited had 20% loss to the field. The FBGA would like to get feedback from you, the growers on this issue to see if it is a big enough problem statewide to perform research. Feel free to contact Michael Hill at Michael@southernhillfarms.com or via phone at 321-239-3137 if you have any questions or the FBGA office at 352-754-4145.

Dudley Calfee

President, Florida Blueberry Grower Association

 

Blueberry Information

The following is a link to a new UF/IFAS Publication looking at the blueberry industry and consumption trends:

http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/fe952

Dr. Eric Stafne from Mississippi State University has provided an excellent presentation focused on micronutrient disorders of blueberries at the following link:

http://lake.ifas.ufl.edu/agriculture/citrus/documents/micronutrient-disorders-in-blueberries.pdf

 

FBGA Fall Growers Meeting and Trade Show

fbga_fall

Florida Blueberry Growers annual Fall Growers Meeting held at the Hillsborough Community College Trinkle Center in Plant City, FL.

BGA

   

The 26th Annual Florida Postharvest Horticulture Tour March 2 – 6, 2015

The Florida Postharvest Horticulture Tour brings participants “up-close and personal” to learn how fresh subtropical, tropical and temperate fruits, vegetables and ornamental crops are handled. With exclusive, behind-the-scene visits hosted by top management, the group becomes familiar with a variety of methods and technologies employed to harvest, pack, cool, ship and receive fresh crops.  This tour is designed for produce industry professionals, educators, researchers and students in such diverse areas as field and packinghouse management, transportation, wholesale and retail sales, and import/export. The group will visit large and small-scale operations, compare cooling technologies, visit a fresh-cut processor and a major supermarket distribution center.
 

Attaining Optimum Blueberry Yield Workshop – – October 28, 2014 & Central Florida Weather Watch

Greetings,

 

We are about a week away from the Florida Blueberry Growers Association Fall Seminar taking place in Plant City on Tuesday, October 7, 2014.  If you plan to attend and haven’t pre-registered, please do so ASAP by following the link: http://floridablueberrygrowers.com/sample-page/upcoming-meetings/.  I look forward to seeing everyone in Plant City.

 

As a follow-up to the hydrogen cyanamide workshop last year, there will be a “Attaining Optimum Blueberry Yield” Workshop occurring at the UF/IFAS – Lake County Office in Tavares, FL starting at 11:30 AM.  I have placed a link to the program Agenda, including the pre-registration link, below:

 

http://lake.ifas.ufl.edu/agriculture/citrus/documents/Blueberry_Workshop102814v1_wphil_wg092914.pdf

 

Even though temperatures are still warm, it is inevitable that most of us will have freeze protection on our mind before you know it.  Once again, we are offering the Central Florida Weather Watch resource to assist growers track threatening cold air masses as they approach the state.  The link below leads to the 2014-15 Central Florida Weather Watch resource.  If you plan to participate in the program, please follow the instructions on the form.

 

http://lake.ifas.ufl.edu/agriculture/citrus/documents/Weatherwatchsignup14-15.pdf

 

Please let me know if you have any questions.

 

Thank you,

 

Gary K. England

1951 Woodlea Rd.

Tavares, FL 32778

(352) 343-4101 Ext. 2729

(352) 343-2767 FAX

gke@ufl.edu

 
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